Julie Andrews: The Inside Scoop!

May 30th, 2009

The Hills Are Alive….

…with the sound of zillions of books being given away at Book Expo America (the largest book trade fair in the US), which was opened this year by none other than….

Julie Andrews!

If you’re in New York City this weekend, you’ve probably noticed the place has been taken over by booksellers, librarians, teachers, and authors…hundreds of AUTHORS!

I’m talking Neil Gaiman, Sherman Alexie, Sarah Dessen, Shannon Hale, and many many more!

The best part of Book Expo America (besides the fact that you get to meet a lot of your favorite authors and hear about their upcoming titles) is that publishers give away advanced reader copies (or sometimes finished copies, if they’re available) of their new Fall books to attendees of the fair for FREE!

So, if you’re a reader, and you want to stock up on all the new Fall titles, this is THE fair to attend.


The view that greets you as you walk in the doors of the Javits Center: just some of the hundreds of checked wheelie bags containing free books lucky attendees of BEA have managed to snag this weekend.

I was at Book Expo all day yesterday, starting at SEVEN IN THE MORNING, with Julie Andrews, Tomie De Paolo, and Amy Krouse Rosenthal, opening the fair with the annual Children’s Author Breakfast (surprise guest Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul, and Mary, held a sing-along. I was sitting next to Julie and I can assure you, she sang, and beautifully)!


Peter Yarrow telling me something good….

Here’s a cute PW review of the breakfast…

…but I’m here to give you the inside scoop!


Me, Tomie, Julie, and Amy, in the green room

First of all, Julie was soooo nice. People think of Julie as a movie star, but to me, she’s first and foremost an author. Her book Mandy has always been one of my favorites!

I do think of Julie as Maria von Trapp of course (and Princess Mia’s grandmother, only not from the book version of the series, obviously. She’s too nice for that), but mostly as a wonderful author who is so generous and giving and considerate of fellow authors at events like BEA.

One of the Margarets—either Atwood or Drabble, I can’t remember which (and maybe it was neither and I dreamt this, which happens to me frequently. Thanks, Ambien!)—once said wanting to meet the author who wrote your favorite book is like wanting to meet the cow that produced your hamburger. Basically, you’re only going to be disappointed.

I always try to keep that in mind when meeting my readers. How can I not be a cow and disappoint them? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I’m not as cool/nice/smart/funny as Mia/Heather/Allie/Suze/Em or whichever character they’re expecting?


Let me tell you…being the hamburger and not the cow is a lot of stress!

Obviously it’s very difficult, especially at an event like BEA when you’re pulled in so many different directions, with so many people wanting so many different things from you at the same time, to make everyone happy. A lot of people came up to me after the breakfast yesterday to get things signed, and I just couldn’t do it, because I had meetings with industry people I could only see then, or not at all, unfortunately (but I did have an allotted time for signing later…I could only hope my readers could make it then)!


Julie Andrews is so nice, she actually read us a little story to calm our nerves before we went on stage. Ha, not really: We were all looking at a copy of her new book with her co-author, daughter Emma.

I will admit there’s some truth to the hamburger quote: I’ve met authors whose work I’ve loved who’ve ended up disappointing me in real life. They’ve either taken themselves too seriously or had no sense of humor or both (although I have to hope there are two sides to the story, and that maybe those authors were just having a bad day. It happens).

But that’s why Julie Andrews is so refreshing: She’s nice to everyone, no matter what, and very down to earth. She confided to me she had to get up super early to get her makeup done for the event, and I was like, “Guess what? I never even went to bed!”

That’s because the night before, I was so nervous trying to remember the text for my PowerPoint, I couldn’t sleep!

Yes, I gave a PowerPoint presentation at the breakfast! Even though to quote Dwight from The Office: “Powerpoint is boring”


Yo, Dwight! My Powerpoint isn’t boring. It rocks like a Three Wolf Moon Tee!

Okay, true confession: I was running around at BEA from 6AM-4PM when I finally had to admit defeat. I was dying to make it to the ABC Dinner, but I just had to go home and peel off my Spanx.

So I ended up missing a whole bunch of amazing authors, like Shannon Hale and Katherine Applegate (gasp! The author of The Making Out series! One of my favorites! In the flesh!) and Sarah Dessen!

I could just kick myself. Only I can’t because I have a charley horse from wearing heels all day that actually caused me to jump out of bed at 4 this morning and dance around going “OW OW OW!” (He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog went, all sleepily, “Is there a fire???”).

Okay, to get this out of the way for everyone who asked:

The necklace is JCrew.

The shoes are Kate Spade from Nordstrom.

And the dress is Zac Posen from Net-a-Porter….

…and yes, I spent way too much on the dress…but I gave a LOT of money to Greenpeace this year thanks to Ransom My Heart! I know that doesn’t make it OK, but if loving cute dresses is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Oh! I almost forgot! Henrietta was totally fine on the flight to New York, thanks for asking! The vet insisted on giving her a very mild sedative so she wouldn’t you-know-what on anyone, which he felt was inappropriate and not very healthy for anyone involved.

Unfortunately, the sedative was a little too mild because she still tried to claw her way out of her carrier, and whenever I opened it to see how she was doing, she lunged for freedom (in fact, in the Miami airport bathroom, she did escape, but some kind ladies helped me catch her and stuff her back into her Sherpa bag. Muchos gracias, senoras!).

May I just add that at the security gate in Key West everyone went on and on about how beautiful Henrietta is (she really is a gorgeous cat, I’m not just saying that because she’s mine) and also how sweet-tempered (ha ha ha! It was the half a pill, which actually worked for about two seconds)?

So in all it was fine…for HER.

I however developed a raging migraine because I kept smelling what I thought was you-know-what. But it wasn’t Henrietta, I think it was the man sitting in front of us.

So, that is all. Thanks to everyone who came to see me during my signing!

And remember: Most authors are really nice, and are more nervous about meeting you than you are about them.

That’s why so many of us are addicted to Ambien.


Does any other author have readers as adorable this? I think not.

More later.

Much love,

Meg